May 14, 2014: Run to the Good Shepherd

~by Susi Pittman

This past Sunday, the Catholic Church celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday, with the liturgy spotlighting the scriptural passage from John 10:27-30.

Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

THIS IS MY FAVORITE LITURGY !

It was also my husband Greg’s favorite liturgy. Numerous times during Greg’s cancer fight, I would drive him over to Blessed Trinity, where he would sit before the beautiful, life-sized statue of Christ the Good Shepherd to meditate and pray. As Greg lost the fight some months later and died with me at his side, my mind was taken back to that Church visitation. Greg would walk over to the statue and knell down, tears streaming down his face and he would place his head upon the feet of Jesus. He would stay there a while as if resting in some heavenly bliss.

Jesus indeed is Our Good Shepherd leading us to our eternal home with the Father, our Father and Creator.

The Good Shepherd is featured on my book. Not because I had pre-thought it. As a matter of fact, I had an entirely different idea about the cover of Animals in Heaven? But the Lord had other plans.

Julio was my graphic consultant at Monkey C Media in San Diego that I had chosen to produce the book’s cover. I had given him an idea about clouds and ethereal things and he had returned on them, but none of them were speaking to the sincerity and sacredness of the message that the book contained. So, I told Julio that I needed something more holy and mystical. Then came the graphic…..the cover that you now see on the book. THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Julio knew nothing of my husband’s devotion to Christ the Good Shepherd…and yet, there it was…Jesus and the sheep. I knew it was a sign, the Lord had spoken.

Jesus loves all that has been given to him:

All that the Father gives to me will come to me.” John 6:37

Images of the Good Shepherd were actually found in the Catacombs of Rome. By the fifth century this image was given a halo and rich robes, symbolic of Christ’s divinity and priesthood. In Catholicism, we pray the following prayer to the Good Shepherd:

Almighty and ever-living God,
give us new strength
from the courage of Christ our shepherd,
and lead us to join the saints in heaven.

The cover of Animals in Heaven? has been a source of the books continued appeal. The Good Shepherd watches over all who read its content. I have received numerous emails that have praised the fact that The Good Shepherd on the cover was the decisive item that caused them to want to read the book. There have been others who have told me that they received such joy and peace from the book’s message. One person even telling me that at a moment of real darkness in their life, they found hope again in the book’s message.

I can only say that as trials occur and the appearance of darkness may loom on a particular day’s horizon, the best course of action in dealing with such is to run to Jesus, The Good Shepherd. Sit at His feet and allow yourself to bask in His loving and merciful eyes. Allow Him to stand guard over your affairs and in your weakness be strong in Him! Answer that which is negative and ill-intended with the knowledge of knowing that with Jesus, there is NOTHING that the two of you can’t accomplish if you just have faith!

Our universe is a deliberate thought of love among the infinite dimensions and universes in the mind of God.
~ Susi~
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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

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